A rise in the number of unoccupied recreational vehicles on the Bighorn National Forest has led the Forest Service to increase patrols in the national forest.
Dispersed camping (outside developed campgrounds) in recreational vehicles is allowed within 300 feet of Forest Service numbered roads designated on the Bighorn’s Motor Vehicle Use Map. Between June 1 and Sept. 10 each year, dispersed camping is limited to 14 consecutive days in one location. After 14 days, campers must move at least five air miles from the previous location.
Such regulations are needed to reduce impacts to natural resources like vegetation and water.
“Increased competition for camping sites is creating resource implications,” said forest supervisor Bill Bass. “We’re seeing changes in vegetation, user-created roads beyond the 300 feet allowance for dispersed camping, and a scarcity of available camping sites in popular areas.”
Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available free from Bighorn National Forest offices in Buffalo, Lovell and Sheridan, as well as from the forest’s website, http://www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn. The maps show the areas where dispersed camping is allowed.
Law enforcement personnel are stepping up their patrols in areas where the increases are occurring. Those exceeding the 14-day limit can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 16 months.
For more information about camping in the Bighorn National Forest, contact the Powder River Ranger District in Buffalo at 307-684-7806, the Medicine Wheel/Paintrock Ranger District in Lovell at 307-548-6541, or the Tongue Ranger District at 307-674-2600.